On Tuesday 15th April 1952 Princess Elizabeth was in the middle of offering five days of Easter sailings from Bournemouth.
After the mixed financial fortunes of putting on steamer trips at Bournemouth at Easter in the years after the war Red Funnel and Cosens decided that they would give them a miss in 1952. It was just so expensive bringing out a steamer so early in the season to run a few trips and then having to lay her up again until Whitsun due to lack of demand. If the weather was good then they might make a modest surplus of income over expenditure. If the weather was not good then they might lose shed loads of money. It was a balance and not one stacked in favour of the operators.
However there was considerable lobbying to get them to change their minds and in the end Red Funnel agreed to send down their Princess Elizabeth to run for five days starting on Easter Sunday 13th April 1952. As her principal role now was as the stand by ship for the Southampton to Cowes ferry she was already in steam. So they would give it a go.
Fortunately the weather smiled on them and of potential of passengers there were many. Her first scheduled trip was a non landing cruise on the Sunday to Totland Bay due away from Bournemouth at 2.45pm due back 5,30pm but on this she sailed twenty minutes early already full up to her Class III Passenger Certificate capacity which was then in excess of 600.
These were to be the last Easter paddle steamer sailings from Bournemouth. The following year Cosens remained of the view that putting a steamer on so early in the season carried too high a commercial risk. And Princess Elizabeth could no longer do it as by 1953 she had lost her Class III Passenger Certificates. For the remainder of her career as a Red Funnel steamer Princess Elizabeth sailed only on Class IV and V PCs for sailings within the Solent and Southampton Water. Red Funnel knew what all owners operating domestic passenger vessels know. Moving up from Class IV, V & VI to Class III for sailing beyond the Categorised Waters limits as defined by the MCA is a massive sea change bringing with it many additional regulatory requirements which are expensive to implement and hard to achieve at a justifiable cost.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 15th April 2021.